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Sonnet Tempo AHCI PCIe AIC SSD Review

Sonnet Tempo AHCI PCIe AIC SSD Review
Sonnet adds a much need heat sink to Samsung's SM951 AHCI SSD and makes some other changes to produce the Tempo PCIe SSD.
By: Jon Coulter | PCIe in Storage | Posted: Sep 14, 2016 5:10 pm
TweakTown Rating: 88%Manufacturer: Sonnet

Introduction

 

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Samsung's SM951 AHCI M.2 SSD launched in January of last year and to this day it is still one of the fastest SSDs on the market. The SM951 AHCI PCIe Gen3 x4 M.2 SSD delivered the goods at the time like nothing previously seen. Even Intel's behemoth 750 Series NVMe SSDs had trouble outperforming this tiny M.2 SSD. The only issue with the SM951 AHCI was thermal throttling that in some cases greatly reduced performance.

 

 

Sonnet Technologies, a leading aftermarket company that mainly caters to the Mac crowd, has created a custom Add-In-Card (AIC) utilizing Samsung's SM951 AHCI M.2 SSD, a custom heat sink and an M.2 to PCIe Gen3 x 4 lane PCIe slot adapter, dubbed Tempo. The large custom heat sink wicks heat away from the drive's controller and flash packages, thus putting an end to the thermal throttling issues that have plagued the SM951 AHCI from day one.

 

Sonnet adds a hefty premium for this custom design, and that's to be expected from a company that caters mainly to Mac users. The price for the Tempo 512GB SSD is roughly $200 more than if you were to buy a 512GB SM951 AHCI in a standalone M.2 form factor. However, you get the benefit of a design that virtually eliminates thermal throttling as well as a more universal form factor that can be utilized on computers that do not have a built-in M.2 Gen3 x4 slot. Because the Tempo is an AHCI based drive, the Tempo has true plug and play capabilities for most Mac's as well as Windows PCs.

 

At the heart of the Tempo is a Samsung SM951 AHCI SSD, so we know it is going to be good; let's see how good.

 

Specifications

 

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Sonnet's Tempo AIC SSD is available in two capacities: 256GB and 512GB. The 512GB model we have on the bench has the following factory specifications for Windows PC's with PCIe 3.0 slots:

 

  • Sequential Read: up to 1936 MB/s
  • Sequential Write: up to 1529 MB/s
  • Max 4K Random Read Speed: not listed
  • Max 4K Random Write Speed: not listed

 

The Tempo retail package includes the drive, half-height mounting bracket, full height mounting bracket, and printed quick start guide.

 

Sonnet warranties the Tempo for one year, which is way too short of a period in our opinion. Because the SM951 AHCI is an OEM product, the warranty and endurance are specified by the reseller instead of Samsung.

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